Corey Rennell doesn't do things halfway.
After discovering that what passes for convention wisdom on the topic of nutrition is a contradictory, confusing, reductionist mess, he stopped listening and started looking for himself.
A nutrition major, Corey researched the biology of food; studied elite athletes; examined the dietary patterns of our closest relatives, chimpanzees;and craziest of all, traveled the world in search of a Common sense around food shared by traditional and indigenous peoples.
He discovered the optimal human diet, yes, but he also discovered that diet divorced from community is a rootless leaf.
The diet: “Eat mostly whole fresh fruits and vegetables.”
The community ethos: “Treat others the way you want to be treated.”
While that sounds familiar, like perhaps a version of The Golden Rule, it turns out that it's decidedly NOT the basis of the current food economy, nor any other part of the functional apparatus of our culture. In other words, we like the sound of it, but not its real-world implications.
Returning home, Corey co-founded a food company, Core Foods, that strives to provide the right food in the right way. Going into the interview, I thought I had a pretty good idea of what that meant. But as we talked, I realized that my own concepts were cramped and timid compared to Corey's grand vision of The Way Things Can Be.
I hope our conversation inspires you as much as it has inspired me. We covered:
- the world's first (perhaps) produce-only restaurant
- turning vegetarian at 7 after watching Bambi
- the “bouncing bubble” of diet fads
- the “three-body problem” of nutrition and the limitations of human research
- the misuse of correlational data
- first-hand reports of the diets of subsistence tribes
- the role of meat in traditional diets (and why that was hard for Corey to hear)
- what we can learn about diet and physiology from chimpanzees
- why simple and sexy are such important food adjectives
- why real subsistence tribes try to avoid hunting (think risk/reward)
- growing up with a values-oriented diet in Alaska
- reconceptualizing economics as collective stewardship of our world rather than the invisible hand of competition (the “thousand-year test”)
- the problem of non-perishable money
- the absence of individuality in traditional tribes
- “How do we solve this together?” – the inspiration for Core Foods' 100% reinvestment model
- The thing that's more fundamental than diet
- how to measure the true health of an economy
- the blessing of a Kickstarter campaign
- “We do not sell our future for our present” – why they don't sell equity in Core Foods
- why ethical business is more competitive than standard business practices
- the most important value: access to healthy food
- the breakfast project
- the corrosive nature of health compromises
- the challenges with distributing health food in the current food system
- reinventing how fresh food is distributed
- giving away their business model (even to McDonalds!)
- educating people to want high quality foods
- “using fear as a compass”
- focusing on fresh rather than healthy
- and much more…
The music for today’s show was generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians. It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour. You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website, WillRidenour.com.
Intro/outro track: Dance of Peace (Sabali Don)
Fascinating article on Corey and Core Foods in Forbes magazine (of all places)
Sacred Economics, by Charles Eisenstein – on amazon, for sale, with me getting a wee affiliate kickback
Sacred Economics, by Charles Eisenstein – readable online, for free, with no registration or any strings attached, with me getting nothing save an oceanic feeling of love and kinship)
The Yoga of Eating, by Charles Eisenstein – on amazon
The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible, by Charles Eisenstein